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Friday, July 25, 2014

THE MAN I WILL MARRY by Elaine Charton/Elaine Joyce

Hello Readers-
This short story is sort of a prequel to my novel, The Pink Lady.  It's the story of how Leticia and Reginald, the ghosts who haunt the Pink Lady, first met. I hope you enjoy the story and will read the blurb for The Pink Lady that follows.
~Elaine Joyce

Leticia Greenwood looked at herself in the mirror. She had finally cut her  blonde hair, worn long for as long as she could remember. Now it was a stylish bob, set in soft waves that not quite reached her shoulders.  Tonight was her best friend's twenty first birthday party.
She wondered what it would be like to love someone as much as Penny loved her Tommy.
Her escort for tonight's party Walter Brace was nice but that was it, He took her to all the right places. Escorted her to parties, dinners, gave her nice presents but she did not want to spend the rest of her life with him. Her father had him to dinner one evening and he returned after that.  Her mother encouraged the relationship, wanting to see her daughter married. If only she could get her mother to realize that she would not marry Walter Brace.. Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock on her door and her maid came into the room.  “Miss, your mother sent me to tell you that Mr. Brace was downstairs waiting in the library.”
     “Thank you, Daisy. Please tell Mama I'll be right down.” She gave herself one last look in the mirror before grabbing her small purse and wrap.
   Downstairs her parents were talking with Walter in the library.  She ran over and hugged her parents before twirling around in front of Walter.  “Will I do?”
    “You look lovely dear,” her mother said.  Her father came over and kissed her cheek. “You know you do. Please pass our apologies again to the Weeks.”
    “ They understand.  Mama didn't expect to break a bone in her foot. Walter?” She asked, ."You haven't said how you like the dress?"
    “You know you look marvelous”  He glanced at his watch.  “We have to go or we'll be late.”
    She grabbed the present she had wrapped earlier for Penny and a second one from her parents before following him out the door.  They drove down Madison Avenue and parked in front of the building where Penny and her parents lived. They had been one of the first families to move into the luxury apartment building.
As he helped her out of the car Walter said, “I still do not know why they wanted to move into one of these apartments. I don't want anyone living above me.”
"Then it's a good thing you don't,”  Leticia said. He had a large brownstone  that she felt was far to big for one person. He told her that one day he hoped to see it filled with children.
“When I have the proper wife," he once explained to her.
She hoped that he didn't think she was that wife,  She liked Walter and they had fun at first but he was getting more and more staid. She couldn't see herself married to him. Maybe before he took her home tonight she would tell him how she felt.
 The Weeks' apartment took the entire first floor and their knock on the door was soon answered by the butler.  Penny and her parents stood in the foyer greeting their guests. A few people were gathered in the drawing room.  Leticia hurried over to her friend.
“Happy Birthday!” She hugged Penny and handed her the gifts.  As they were early there was time to open the gift. 
She handed one to her mother and opened the other. “Oh my,” Penny said and took the hair-combs out of the box. Gold with diamonds around it, they would peek out of her friends dark hair and look marvelous.  She knew that because they had tried them on one day when she and Leticia were out shopping. “You remembered.”
"Of course, silly. Why do you think I talked you out of buying them?”
The front door opened and more guests entered. “Come Leticia, let Penny greet her guests.” Walter steered her into the room. “I see the Steeles. Lets go talk to them.  I'm trying to get Patrick to let me handle his portfolio.”
    She stopped and pulled away from him. "Can we have one night off from business talk? This is a birthday party.”
    "Yes it is, my dear, and some of the most influential men are here.  There is not a better time for business talk. His wife is with him, you can talk with her and keep her occupied.”
    Marion Steele was older than her mother and she did not come to the party to spend time with her. Leticia looked around the room and found another of her friends by the punch bowl. “Fine, you talk business but I'm going to talk to Regina Weatherby.” She strode off before Walter could protest.
    “Good evening Regina.” She took a cup and held it out to her friend who promptly filled it.
    “I see Walter is still hanging around.” She wrinkled her nose. “I don't know what you see in him.”
   “Mother and father like him.”
   “That's not enough to marry someone.”  Regina led her friend across the room to chairs by the windows. They sat down and looked around the room.
   “I'm not going to marry him. He hasn't asked and if he did I’d say no.”
  “That's not what he's saying. My brother is a member of the same club as Walter and he heard Walter say you would soon be engaged.  He said your parents approve."
   “They may, but I can tell you right now we will never marry. I don't love him.”
    “Oh look, there's your brother Malachi.” Regina began fussing with her hair.
    Leticia smiled. Regina had such a crush on her brother and he hasn't figured it out yet. He strode across the room toward them, another man with him.  Leticia's heart stopped, he had to be the most beautiful man she had ever seen. Tall, slim, black hair neatly trimmed. His dinner jacket was obviously made for him.  She thought she knew all of Malachi's friends. She didn't know this one, but she would.
    “Letty!” Her brother came  over and took her hands before kissing  her cheek.  “You look lovely, as always." He turned to his friend. "Reginald Fairfax, may I present my sister Leticia.”
    “I am pleased to meet you Miss Greenwood. Your brother speaks highly of you.”  He took her hand and raised it to his lips. “He neglected to tell me how beautiful you were.”
    Letty blushed. He had a slight British accent which added to his appeal. “Thank you. May I present my friend, Regina Weatherby.”
    The four of them stood there talking but all to soon Walter came over. “Malachi, good to see you, Miss Weatherby. And you, sir, are?”
    “Sorry Walter, this is my friend, Reginald Fairfax. Reggie, this is Walter Brace, a friend of the family.”
    The two men nodded and Walter once again steered her away. "Come dear, Penny needs you to help her with something.” 
    Just before reaching the foyer, she turned to look back.  Regina and her brother were deep in conversation but Mr. Fairfax watched her intently. She blushed when he nodded and winked.
    “Here she is,” Walter said to Penny's parents.  “I'll see you at dinner, dear.” He kissed her on the cheek and went back to the drawing room.
    “Come dear, Penny decided she wanted to wear your gift tonight and would like you to help her with them.  She's in her dressing room.”
    Letty knew this apartment as well as she knew her house and hurried down the hall to her friend's room. Penny jumped up as she came in. “I'm so nervous.  Tommy came in and he and father immediately went into his study.”
    “Do you think? What else could they be talking about?”
    “I don't know. I'm almost afraid to hope.”
    “What else could it be? Your parents said you couldn't get engaged until you were twenty one."  She reached for her friend's hairbrush. “Lets fix your hair. Those diamonds will be the perfect thing to match your smile when your father announces your engagement.”

    It did not take her long and soon they were heading back to the drawing room.  Tommy was waiting in the foyer and Penny ran to him.  Letty slowed down a bit to give them time. When she reached them, the smile on her friend's face said it all.  “Congratulations!” She hugged the two of them. “You better treat her right, Tommy, or there will be trouble.”
    “No fear there, Leticia.” He put an arm around his fiancée and hugged her
    "Let's go in, you two. Father wants to make the announcement before dinner. He won't let Tommy give me my ring until he does.”
    “Then let's go.” She followed them in; just inside the drawing room, Walter stood waiting for her.
    “You two were a long time just fixing hair.”
    "Shh, " She watched her friend join her parents with her fiancée by her side. The room exploded in applause when the engagement was announced. She glanced across the room and saw Reginald Fairfax.  He may have been applauding the happy couple but he was looking at her.
    “I don't like that man, ”Walter whispered in her ear.
    She groaned. If his breath were any indication he'd already had more than one glass of whiskey. “Oh please , Walter. Mr. Fairfax is a friend of Malachi's.”
    “Still.” he took her hand. “Come with me. I want to talk to you for a minute. Everyone will be busy congratulating the happy couple.”
    She followed him out of the room and into the salon next door. This was where Mrs. Weeks received her close friends during the day.  It was hot in there and she opened the French doors to let some air in..
    “Leticia, come sit down. We need to talk.”
    She did, but immediately began chattering. She thought she knew what Walter wanted.  “I'm so happy for Penny.  She asked me to be her maid of honor if this happened. We're going to have fun shopping for gowns.”
    “Maybe you can do the same for her.””
    “We always intended to be each others maid of honor, but I'm not getting married any time soon. I have to love a man before I marry him.”
"Could I be that man?" He pulled her closer. “I love you, Leticia. I want to marry you. I'll be a good husband.”
He pulled her even closer. Before he kissed her he whispered, “I can make you love me.”
    “Walter, no!” She tried to push him away but couldn't.  His lips were cold and the smell of whiskey on his breath was making her sick.
    "Come on, Leticia, you know you love me.”
    His hands seemed to be everywhere and she was about to scream when she heard a welcome voice.  “ My sister said no, Brace.”
    He let her go and she ran to her brother. He stood at the French doors with Reginald Fairfax standing behind him. Malachi put his arms around his sister, “Did he hurt you ?”
    She shook her head. “I just want him to leave.”
    Reginald stepped out and stood next to them.  “You best do as the lady requested, Brace.”
    “That lady is my fiancée, I just asked her to marry me. This has nothing to do with you.”
    "But she is my sister."  Malachi said.  "I believe it has everything to do with me.
    Leticia pulled away from her brother and walked over to Walter.  She gave him a resounding slap across his cheek.  “I will never marry you.”
    “You heard my sister. You better leave. I'll be sure she gets home. I'm sure my parents, especially my father, will be very interested in  what happened here tonight.”
    “Fine." He turned on his heels and strode out the room slamming the door forcefully behind him.
   Malachi held her at arms length and looked her up and down, “Now little sister. He didn't hurt you?”
    Leticia shook her head.  “Can you get Penny for me?”
    Reginald said, “Allow me, please, Miss Greenwood. I think you'd feel better if your brother stays with you.”
    She nodded and reached out to touch his arm. "Thank you, Mr. Fairfax. Just tell her I am unwell. I do not want her party ruined.”
    “Of course.”
    Once it was just her and her brother she started shaking all over.  Malachi lead her over  to a chair  and pulled his jacket off to wrap around her before pouring her a  glass of brandy.  “Here, little sister. Drink this.” He sat on the arm of the chair and put an arm around her.
    "Thank God, you were here, Malachi. I don't know what mother and father will say."
    Before he could reply Penny came in followed by her mother.
    “Letty, are you hurt?”  Penny and her mother asked at the same time. "What happened?"         
    She shook her head.  "It was horrible.  She told them what had happened. "Luckily, Malachi and Mr. Fairfax were outside and stopped him."
    “We were outside having a cigar and we heard voices here.  We came to investigate and it's a good thing we did."
    “Yes, it is, Thank you.” Mrs. Week smiled at both the men.  “Do you want to go home, Letty? You're welcome to stay in Penny's room. We'll just tell people you were sick. No one has to know a thing. I am sure that it will be all over town soon enough. “
             “What will people think of me?” Leticia asked.
    Reginald said, “If they have any sense they'll be happy for you to be rid of that idiot.”
"That's for sure,"  Penny said. "I heard father tell someone they only invite him because of you.”
Mrs. Weeks rang the bell and a maid soon entered the room.  “Kathleen, please bring Miss Greenwood  to Miss Penny’s room. She's spending the night and she's not feeling well.”
“Yes Ma'am.” She bobbed a curtsy.
Leticia stood and hugged her brother. before returning his jacket to him..  “Will you explain to mother and father??”
He nodded,  "When father finds out, I pity Walter. I'll have mother send a carriage for you tomorrow with a change of clothes.”
"Thank you." She turned to Reginald. “And thank you, Mr. Fairfax. I only wish your first visit had been a little less eventful.”
He took her hand in his and raised it to his kips. “Not to worry, Miss Leticia. I am sure we will meet again. Especially as I will be working with your brother at the newspaper.”
She smiled and followed the maid out. Penny promised to join her as soon as she could.
In the bedroom the maid helped Leticia undress and get into one of  Penny's night gowns. “It's a good thing you and Miss Penny are just about the same size.”
Katherine helped her into bed, promising to come back with a cup of tea and some toast.   
"That will be lovely. It will help my headache.”
She sat in bed and replayed the scene in her mind, trying to think if she could have done anything different.  In a way he had done her a favor. She was glad Mr. Fairfax had been there.  If not Malachi and Walter may have gotten into a fight.  Walter was too much of a stickler to start a fight in someone's house. Malachi had no such qualms. 
Her mind went back to Reginald Fairfax, the way he looked at her, the way he looked at Walter. Given half a chance she'd bet her would have socked him in the nose. 
She loved the sound of his voice, especially when he said her name; his lovely accent and the way he made her skin tingle.  No other man had ever done that before, definitely not Walter. She managed to stay awake until Penny came up.  
“Good, you're still awake.”  She had  a plate with two pieces of birthday cake. She placed them on the bedside table before sitting next to Leticia.
“Is it over all ready?”
“No, Tommy and my mother both told me to get up here. I was driving them both crazy.”
Leticia smiled and took a bite of cake. '"Yum. Mrs Johnson's chocolate cake.”
“Of course. She wasn't letting any one else make my birthday cake. She also insist she is making the wedding cake she put her plate down and said, “Now, Leticia, tell me everything.”
So she did, and surprised herself by not falling apart. Instead she got angry all over again and her friend joined her in that anger.  “How dare he!”
“If  it wasn't for Malachi and his friend, who knows what might have happened.”
“That's for sure, have you met Mr. Fairfax before tonight?”
Leticia shook her head.  “I hadn't even heard of him before tonight. Apparently he is working with Malachi at the newspaper. They were at Harvard together.”
“Well, I heard some gossip downstairs, apparently he's the son of some earl but he was born on the wrong side of the blanket. He was sent to school and when he graduated he was given money to emigrate here, and go to Harvard.”
    “Yes, apparently he's very smart and according to my father a good reporter.  Someone said something derogatory about him and your brother defended him.”
    “I would expect nothing else from Malachi. Mr. Fairfax is handsome, isn't he?”
    “Not as handsome as my Tommy. Though he certainly seemed worried about you.”
 "Probably because Malachi is his friend. He does seem rather nice."
  “Leticia Greenwood, are already interested in someone else?”
  “Come, Penny. We know I was never really interested in Walter. I only kept company  with him to keep my mother from bothering me."                    “What do you think she'd say about Mr. Fairfax?”
“She better like him, I may end up marrying him."
© 2014 Elaine Charton ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
“Old Ghosts are good for business but dead bodies are not. “
The Pink Lady is a venerable Victorian home located near Cape Cod, in Massachusetts.
Anna Murray inherits the home from her uncle and decides to turn it into a bed and breakfast with the help of the two resident ghosts, Reggie and Leticia Farnsworth and BJ Kent, a contractor who specializes in Victorian restorations.
As Anna and BJ peel back the layers of grime, the layers of time reveal the truth behind the death of the Farnsworths so many years ago. Their present day situation has parellels to the Farnsworths, can Anna and BJ solve the mystery before it reaches the same sinister conclusions?


  1. What a fun read, Elaine! "The Pink Lady" will be a fun and interesting story, I'm sure.

  2. Great idea to write a prequel about the ghost in the Pink Lady!